Coimbra

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Coimbra

 

Coimbra circles around the crown of a hill upon which Portugal's oldest university (founded in 1290) sits. The University terrace overlooks the River Mondego. Coimbra is best explored by foot, climbing winding lanes up one route to the University, and working your way back down by another route. 

The Patio das Escolas, the main quadrangle of the University is surrounded by the venerable Chapel, Ceremonial Hall, and resplendent Joanine Library. A limited number of advanced tickets are available each day to view these.
 

Much of the commercial center of town was developed in a boom period in the early 1900s. It is undergoing major rejuvenation, especially along the riverfront.

An ancient praxe of ritual and customs for the University students include the "tin can" homecoming events, and "burning of the ribbons" and "cutting of the cape" graduation ceremonies.

Coimbra's old town has a maze of alleys with eccentric decor and fascinating hole-in-the-wall shops and eateries.

 

Coimbra is known for its liberal outlook. It was a focus for radical opposition to the Salazar regime. This protest for collective agreements and higher wages continues the tradition.

The Baixa, lower town, has traditionally been the poorer part of town outside the protective walls. Today it has its own charm, especially for people- watching.
 

Remarkable staircases in the Alta, upper town, wind past the student residences, colleges and associated outbuildings.

Among the many statues decorating the piazzas is this one of the traditional folk tricana woman.

Fado is a melancholy, dramatic folk music originating from 1920s working class barrios. 

Just outside of Coimbra lies Conimbriga, the best-preserved  Roman settlement in Portugal, which thrived with a population of 10,000 people until the 2nd Century.

 

Remains of Conimbriga's forum, amphitheatre,  public baths and private homes have been excavated and preserved. The House of the Fountains retains operational waterworks.

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This site was last updated 03/15/15